The Role of Exercise in Treating Postpartum Depression: A Review of the Literature

Amanda J. Daley, PhD, C. Psychol; Christine MacArthur, PhD; Heather Winter, MD, MROG, FFPH


J Midwifery Womens Health. 2007;52(1):56-62. 

In This Article


A literature search was conducted for published English language reports of RCTs, uncontrolled studies, and observational reports that assessed physical activity and/or exercise behaviour and postnatal/postpartum depression. Studies involving animals were excluded. The search used a combination of the key words exercise, physical activity, pram pushing, pram walking, postnatal depression, and postpartum depression, and relevant studies were identified by searching Medline, EMBASE, PubMed, SPORT Discus, CINAHL, PsychINFO, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from their inception to the present (May 2006). We also searched the bibliographies of studies identified by electronic searches to identify additional studies. Information about ongoing trials was obtained by searching the clinical trials site from the U.S. National Institute of Health and UK National Research Register.

Our search strategies located two published RCTs and one ongoing RCT. Three reports of uncontrolled and observational studies were also identified. In addition, a number of observational and/or uncontrolled studies that involved general populations of postpartum women were located.


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